Tag: plugin

Google Sitemaps

One of the most often asked questions I see on webmaster forums is about Google Sitemaps. In short, a Google Sitemap is a mechanism that allows Google to index your site with more accuracy. If you do not implement a Google Sitemap, Google will still index your site. So why should you setup a Google Sitemap?

Managing Google’s Bot

The main dilema is that you want Google’s bots to visit your site and index as much as possible, but after that you only need Google to index new content and not just waste bandwidth indexing previous content. The robots.txt file offers only limited options, it can’t tell bots to index only new content, so Google came up with Sitemaps to help webmasters make bots work more efficiently. Google’s Sitemap format makes it easy to tell the search engine bot, what your urls are, when they were last changed, and the frequency with which they change. This way the bot knows what it needs to look at and what it can ignore. This should help reduce crawling and make for more accurate indexing as well.

Sitemap Benefits

For websites that use non-engine friendly urls or sites that are brand new and have put a lot of content, the benefits of using a sitemap is that indexing will be more accurate. If your site is new and has no pagerank, a sitemap will not add your site any quicker than if you did not use a sitemap. The idea is not immediate search engine rankings, the idea is to have correct indexing, so when Google does add your site officially to its databases, all of your pages will be included correctly.

If you use WordPress, Google Sitemap Generator is a WordPress plugin that can create and manage your Google Sitemap. You can also create your own manually, just reference the Google’s Sitemap protocol.

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Google Analytics

Google just announced that they are going to providing another service, called Google Analytics. The new service allows webmasters to have free web stats based on Google’s prior Urchin Stats service. All you have to do is signup with Google on their Google Analytics site, and signin using your Gmail, Adsense, or Adwords account.

Once you go through the signup process, you get a simple javascript to add to your html pages.

For WordPress users dt’s Blog.thedt.net site has a Google analytics plugin that gives you a simple text box for you to paste the script code into. I had to correct the plugin code, because for some reason it stripped out the php lines, so if you cannot correct the code from dt’s site, feel free to copy the Google Analytics plugin code from our WordPress forum.

Another WordPress plugin that is easier to use is Cavemonkey50’s Google Analyticator plugin. Unlike dt’s plugin, Analyticator just asks you for the user account code, and not the entire script.

However how does Google Analytics compete against the other web stats packages out there, well Eric Peterson gives us some of his thoughts on Google giving away web stats.

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Custom Shortstat Plugin

A very handy plugin that I use for web stats is Jeff Minard’s WordPress port of Shortstat, which is a script that Shaun Inman originally wrote.

Shortstat Plugin Conflict

It appears that Jeff recently updated the Shortstat plugin to version 1.3 and that there was a conflict with another great plugin, Google Sitemap Generator. After some research on WebKeyDesign, I found that the 2.7 version of Google Sitemap Generator conflicts with the 1.3 version of the Shortstat plugin. But the 2.7.1 version works fine. If you have not updated Sitemap to 2.7.1, first do that then download the new 1.3 version of Shortstat and set that up. This should make both plugins work.

Shortstat Slows Down WordPress Dashboard

As if the Dashboard was not slow enough some days, Shortstat adds even more delay due to the IP address lookup that it does. You can disable this feature if you do not particularly care about what country your visitors are from. Most webmasters want to know what state or region in the USA, instead of the country, so for many webmasters this feature is not specific enough. To disable the feature just go to line 119 and look for the following code:

$coinfo = @file('http://www.hostip.info/api/get.html?ip=' . $ip);
$country_string = explode(':',$coinfo[0]);
$country = trim($country_string[1]);

Change the code to this:

// $coinfo = @file('http://www.hostip.info/api/get.html?ip=' . $ip);
// $country_string = explode(':',$coinfo[0]);
// $country = trim($country_string[1]);
$country = '(Private Address) (XX)';

The Dashboard will still be slow due to feeds but Shortstat will not add to the delay.

Shortstat Database Data

If you take a quick look at the stats that you get, you can tell that they can start to add up and that while these stats are adequate for a quick daily glance, they are not really something to keep for a year or even more than a few months, so what you eventually need to do is zap the stats from time to time.

Shortstat adds two tables to the WordPress database: ss_stats and ss_search. I personally zap ss_stats more often than ss_search, since ss_search has the data for sites that refer to me and what searches people have used on my weblog. You can however zap both tables. If you have your log hosted on cPanel or have access to just phpMyAdmin you can easily do this. You will need to select only the two tables, and none of the other tables or you could end up deleting your blog data!!! Make sure you backup first. You can reference my Optimize Your MySQL Databases instructions, which should help you understand the process a bit better. The only difference is that instead of optimizing the table, you will be choosing to empty the selected table.

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